Usually, successful companies will retain the services of a public relations firm to deal with the fallout of a product recall or some negative news coverage. Last week, though, Alibaba found out that, sometimes, what's in need of damage control is your own CEO.
Jack Ma landed himself and Alibaba in hot water last week when the CEO seemed to comment at an event in China that counterfeit goods not just on Alibaba but everywhere offer "better quality, better prices than the real products, the real names." However, in an opinion piece published by The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday (June 22), Ma clarified his comments by loudly decrying not just the presence of counterfeit goods on Alibaba but the reluctance of any retailer to scrub them from their sites, no matter how profitable and high-quality they may be.
“Failing to protect original designs, trademarks and technology is akin to thievery, and it is detrimental not only to innovation but also to the integrity of the marketplace,” Ma wrote. “We do not and will never condone any act of stealing.”
2016 has already proven an interesting year for Ma and Alibaba as far as counterfeits are concerned. Bloomberg outlined that, just a few short months after the company loudly proclaimed its zero-tolerance policy for counterfeiting on its sites, Alibaba was removed from the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition in May with only a month of membership under its belt. Ma's recent comments on the quality of bootleg goods were only more hot water added to the pot that the retailer sits in at the moment, and it'll likely take more than a WSJ op-ed to get Alibaba out.